Black Man Shot By Deputy Who Mistook Phone For Gun

A Black man in Northern Virginia, who had been given a ride home by a sheriff’s deputy was critically wounded by that same officer later that same day when he reportedly mistook the man’s cordless home telephone for a gun. His family now wants to know why the deputy opened fire at all.

According to USA TodayIsaiah Brown, 32, was walking away from his home in Spotsylvania County, Va., and was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, while at the same time a Spotsylvania deputy responded to a domestic disturbance call at the house. On 911 audio Brown’s voice can be heard arguing with another individual, who he said was his brother, and even threatening him, but he tells the dispatcher he is not armed.

Body camera footage and 911 audio apparently shows the deputy yelling “drop the gun” at Brown and that “he’s got a gun to his head.” He orders Brown to “stop walking toward me” and orders him to stop several times before shooting him.

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Brown’s attorney, David Haynes said that the deputy, whose name has not been released, shot Brown mistaking a cordless house phone for a firearm. Haynes repeated to USA Today in a statement that the dispatcher had been told Brown was unarmed prior to the arrival of the deputy, but it is unclear if the deputy had been informed of that.

“He told dispatch that he was walking away from the house and away from anyone else and was on the roadway by himself, Haynes said. “Isaiah is now fighting for his life as a result of these completely avoidable errors by the deputy and dispatch.”

The Spotsylvania County Sherrif’s Office did not respond to Haynes’ statement. Meanwhile Brown remains in intensive care with 10 gunshot wounds to his body. 

Earlier in the day, Brown was given a ride from a gas station by the same deputy after his car had broken down, his family said. “I’m still trying to figure out where he felt the threat at, to feel the need to shoot,” Brown’s sister, Yolanda Brown, told Washington D.C. station WRC.

The body camera and 911 audio was made public after demands for transparency from the ACLU of Virginia.

The deputy involved has been placed on administrative leave and a special prosecutor has been assigned to the case, Spotsylvania County Sheriff Roger L. Harris announced.

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